Gotham Episode 1.17 Recap: The Red Hood

The last two weeks have given viewers of Gotham quite a lot to digest and have given me the answer for the show’s long term future. This week’s “Red Hood” and last week’s “Blind Fortune Teller” have given viewers the most direct references to The Joker in the show’s run so far. The actual content of they episodes has been good, but they lead to other questions. However, before we get to that let’s take look at the hits and misses of this week.

The Bad

  • I was under the impression that Butch was going to be a sort of lobotomized version of himself under Penguin’s control but that seems to not be the case. As such, his motivations and interaction with Oswald were confusing. Some level of confusion is understandable in a world with criminals always double-crossing each other. This however, seemed to just be due to some odd writing and directing choices.
  • Along those lines, Oswald has shown himself to be very cunning and manipulative but seems completely unable to manage a restaurant. I think this can play out as a meaningful character trait: As The Penguin, he can manipulate people and come up with schemes, but in managing a crew he always gets in the way of himself and is busted. If this is the idea they are setting up I’m all for it, if it goes unexplained however, it would be a missed opportunity.
  • Maybe it’s my negative Barbara bias, but I just am not feeling the scenes with her, Selina, and Ivy. There’s a way to have her let them stay there that doesn’t come across as awkward and even inappropriate, but the execution this week was just off. When she was standing with Selina, describing her beauty, it was just uncomfortable. I think a failed mentor relationship with these two young ladies could pay off to who they become in the future, but so far this just seems like a relationship that will blow up too soon for that.
  • I am interested to see where they go with Dr.Dulmacher (aka The Dealmaker), but it brings up an issue with how DC Comics is spreading itself in its television universe. Arrow has already used this character, so it clearly won’t be the same person. What this brings to attention is how scatted their various properties are. Sure Arrow and Flash share a universe and network, but Gotham, Constantine, Supergirl and Krypton shows all seem to be separate. It seems like a huge opportunity missed to have all these shows with no connection. No one is asking for crossovers all the time, but there just seems to be a lack of overall strategy present other than get a bunch of shows out. And within all that, they seem okay to have Flash, and then that same character, portrayed in the upcoming series of films, but yet we cannot get a real Batman television show. It just does not make a lot of sense to me.

The Good

  • Let me make this clear. I am not sure how I feel with what seems to be an odd rush to get the Joker in the show somehow. I don’t think Jerome needed to be so obviously “Joker-like” last week, followed by the Red Hood this week. For those that don’t know, The Red Hood has long-been one of the assumed origins of the Clown Prince of Crime. Currently, Red Hood is the mantle of the former Robin, Jason Todd. All that being said, I loved how they actually went about introducing the concept of the Red Hood. The idea of masks being able to give a person wearing it the ability to lose their inhibitions, hang-ups, fears etc…is powerful and something Gotham City will see come about even more powerfully in the future.
  • I have enjoyed Leslie Tompkins entering Bruce’s life as a welcome fresh air following Barbara’s, but it was kind of nice to not focus on that this episode and let Gordon and Bullock do the police work.
  • It was really nice to see Bruce laughing with Alfred and the would-be betrayer Reggie. There’s often this idea that after Bruce witnessed his parents’ murder that he never smiled again or had any occasion to laugh or enjoy the moment but these small moments remind us that he is growing up living a real life, however different it might be.
  • In addition to the dinner scene, which did get awkward mind you, seeing Bruce learn the lesson that a real fight has no rules and that anything can and should be used a weapon was a nice touch. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a “Lesson of the Week” for Bruce but seeing him occasionally learn some things that we know will benefit his Bat-ambition is rewarding.
  • It was gory, and it was unexpected but it was awesome. To this point, Fish Mooney has been groan-worthy on many occasions, but seeing her take extreme measures (Option C in this instance) was quite compelling. Previously we watched her withstand torture in a way that was more annoying than impressive, but this week we actually saw a tangible example of what she’s willing to do to survive.
  • This week was definitely an overall hit, compared to some other weeks that missed mores than not. I hope this continues next week with “Everyone Has A Cobblepot.”

Regarding the show’s future, I really think the best course for them to take is basically what I would have done with the show from the start and that is in the season finale flash forward about 6-10 years and have Bruce on his journey across the world, where we see things he is learning and going through impacted by his younger years in Gotham. We could also see Gordon in a more authoritative role in the GCPD and the different villains at several points in their evolution as opposed to the constant primordial but inevitable state we see them now. I don’t think the show should stay in the future, but rather switch back and forth to contrast what’s happening to where things are actually going.

Most show’s fluctuate the timeline by going backwards, including Arrow, but this approach would bring something a bit different and pay off some off so much of the foreshadowing we get. Most of which, we would never really see pay off as it stands now. Viewers can easily realize that Enigma, Selina, Oswald etc., will be super-villians and Bruce will be Batman so there is not a lot of mystery there. I’ve seen it said, and I agree, that we are seeing a prequel for a show that will never exist. It worked for Smallville because we were still able to see (more or less) fully formed versions of the characters but with Gotham it has been so heavy on foreshadowing and Easter eggs, it feels like one long tease. This solution would give greater depth to the characters and their actions. It could also be a great way to build up hype for the second season as well, including casting of a 18-25 year old Bruce, which would be noteworthy in itself.

What about you? What changes do you think would help firm up the future of Gotham?

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